exploring complexity in life

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Kenneth Kendler, M.D.
Professor and Eminent Scholar
Psychiatry
School of Medicine
E-mail: kendler@hsc.vcu.edu
http://www.vipbg.vcu.edu/~vipbg/dr
/KKENDLER.shtml

Interview
What drew you to the life sciences and why did you choose your specific field?
The possibility of using science to help improve the human condition and psychiatric difficulties — products of the human mind/brain — were by far the most interesting.

Why did you decide to go beyond the lab into the classroom to teach?
You learn by teaching. Also, it is important to try to inspire the next generation of researchers.

What is your philosophy of teaching? How do you teach and why do it that way?
I try to communicate the excitement of science — organized, serious play. In small groups, I try to use the Socratic method — forcing students to actively think, not just listen.

What is it you want your students to leave your class with after it’s all over?
An appreciation of the awesome complexity of human behavior and the potential power of the tools we now have to shed at least some light into the darker places of the human experience.

What do you want students who may be interested in any of the life sciences to know?
That great opportunities await them to plumb the mysteries of the human brain/mind.

What do you get out of teaching?
The chance to organize my thoughts, to try to excite others.

Do you learn anything from your students?
If they think and ask good questions.

What do you do in your “free” time?
I am still raising three children, trying to be a good husband. I exercise regularly — swimming, biking, running and weight lifting.

Do you have any interesting or unusual hobbies?
I have studied the Hebrew Bible (in Hebrew) since college days. I have hiked in some pretty remote places, most recently in the far north of the Canadian arctic, and used to be a good banjo player.

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Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Life Sciences
P.O. Box 842030
1000 W. Cary St.
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2030
Phone: (804) 827-5600
Email: lifesci@vcu.edu
Updated: 09/29/2011